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International Health

Robert Redford Hosts Fundraiser for Center for American Indian Health

Feast for the Future, with honorary host Robert Redford, kicked off a new initiative to fight hunger and malnutrition among Native American populations. The prestigious Niman Fine Art Gallery provided the backdrop for the evening of traditional food, entertainment, and reflection. The gallery—owned by internationally renowned artist Dan Namingha (Hopi) and his wife Frances (Ohkay Owinghe)—generously donated a portion of the art sales to the cause. Mr. and Mrs. Namingha co-chaired the fundraiser along with Rick and Beth Schnieders, and Sibylle Szaggars. For a look at Mr. Namingha’s work, visit:

Robert Redford discusses Feast for Future
Robert Redford and his wife Sybille Szaggars discussing their commitment to healthy Native communities.

The Department’s Olivia Sloan, a native of Santa Fe, organized the event in partnership with the Namingha family, Share Our Strength and a local planning committee. As part of the theme, they invited four celebrated chefs from the area to create dishes inspired by American Indian and Southwest culinary traditions. A live and silent auction including culinary experiences, sports memorabilia and local packages was also held during the dinner. The evening was the first event sponsored by the new partnership between the Center for American Indian Health, Share Our Strength, and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). Each organization is committed to reducing hunger and empowering communities to develop local solutions to improve the health of its members. 

Since its founding, the Center for American Indian Health has been partnering with Southwestern tribes to improve health status through building capacity and training leaders. The Center’s work over the years has brought to light the vast range of nutritional challenges, including hunger facing families and young people in these communities. As honorary host, Robert Redford explained:

Today, the original and best stewards of North America are suffering from nutrition-related sickness and death, including hunger, diabetes, and obesity.  The fate of Native Americans is prophetic for all Americans. Feast for the Future will launch a national initiative to reestablish traditional diets, optimal nutrition and active lifestyles—building on cultural practices cherished by Native communities.

Donations from the evening are going directly into developing pilot programs to help combat these pressing problems. Examples of new programs include the following:

• Community Visioning Project, a community-driven initiative to promote broad-based nutrition and healthy foods access

• Menu for Life, to prevent hunger and food insecurity, with targeted outreach to the most vulnerable Native families with young children

• School Gardening and Farmer Outreach Project, to promote school-, family-, and community-based programming to teach children and families to grow, eat and distribute healthy foods

Feast for Future
From left to right: Jackie Shearer (NFLPA), Jocelyn Stewart, Allison Barlow (CAIH), Robert Redford, Sybille Szaggars, Olivia Sloan (CAIH), Nicole Neault (CAIH), Nicole Pare (CAIH), Ventura Lovato (CAIH), Frances Namingha, Mathu Santosham, Dan Namingha

Dr. Santosham described the event as an unqualified success. He added that Mr. Redford—or Bob, as Dr. Santosham now calls him—personally expressed his commitment to the cause and the Center. You can read more details about the successful dinner and fundraiser in the Santa Fe art magazine, Trend.

--Brandon Howard, September 2009